Guided by the universe

I dont show all my images here, some have meaning only for a small group of people.

Last week I was looking through some old pictures from my time at Cowley School in St.Helens and came across this picture of two fellow pupils enjoying a tea break in the sixth form centre. Not the best picture in the world but I was struck by the beautiful smile of the girl on the left. Her name is Jean Evans. Jean also went to my primary school.

I posted the picture onto the Old Cowleans facebook page for other to see and within an hour had a reply from someone who had the same day heard from Jeans husband of her death.

The news made me sad of course. The coincidence was striking. It had been a busy day and I should have been on a screen break, instead I looked through my old images and this one stood out and I wanted to share it.

I have not talked to or seen Jean for 43 years but in my mind I could have taken this picture yesterday.

Thank you for your lovely smile Jean.

Summer day

View down Victoria Park from the North Road , Rutland street entrance (St.Marks Gate).
Rare 35mm colour transparency, Mid 1970s. Zenit E camera 58mm Helios 44 lens.

Getting into Polytechnic with only one A level

I was keen to study Photography after school and Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham offered a three year course in visual communications photography and film.

I turned up for an interview there with a very small portfolio of images, I was still at school and in retrospect should have done a foundation course at the local art collage before even trying there.

Euan Duff the course leader at Trent was a little hum and ha’ry about things till I showed him these slides and how I talked about documenting ordinary things around me. This was exactly the button to push with Euan (I found out afterwards) as he had undergone a journey of documenting the everyday since the 1950s.

A game of monopoly at Cowley sixth form centre became my chance to advance to Trent. When I told the Polytechnic I had only achieved one A level instead of the two required to join the course I was told to “Come anyway” a “get out of jail card” for me,, sometimes the dice are lucky.

Preparing Sunday dinner in the 1970s

Approx. 1978. In the kitchen in our house in Haydock. Mum prepares the meal. Dad is in his Sunday best in the pub across town with his brothers drinking beer, a drive home in the Austin 1100 then a short sleep before eating.


Two bikes in the garage of our house in Ledger Road, Haydock. Taken in approx 1978.
I seem to remember playing with depth of field and perhaps using a small aperture (f16) on my Russian Lubitel II 6×6 camera to get the most depth of field.
Transparency film in this format was expensive so I was careful to take time with each image.

The crazy pathed floor shows signs of the (normal!) oil leak of the family Austin 1100 car. The car was bought second or third hand for either £25 or £70 (one of the two).
The whole garage was built using cynder blocks produce at the Parr Bold power station and brought back a trunkfull at a time.

My father did most of the work with his brother Bob helping with the wood work. As a teenage boy I should have helped him with the build but seemed to prefer
listening to my radio and reading in my bedroom. I should of course helped more but I did not.

He built it with crude materials but built it well, it was far wider than most UK garages, garages that would struggle to contain a car let alone allow someone to open the car door to get out.

Reluctantance at the start

Haydock Racecourse N.W. England. Summer 1980. Lining up for the race.
Pentax K1000 camera, Kodachrome 25 transparency film.